The Best Scrumptious Chef Posts Of 2018

Po boys, fried chicken, cold beer, hot tamales, second lines, Creole gumbo: these are the best tales we conjured over the course of 2018.

Arabi Food Store in Arabi, Louisiana

January 2018:
“St Maurice Grocery founder Elliot Gaspard was robbed on a 9th Ward street corner by local brigand Ray Connor aka Ray Collins in 1963. Connor got a $1000 but he also got nabbed two days later by cops in Lafayette.” We went deep on Arabi Grocery for our groundbreaking 500 po boys series. link

Mr Okra’s funeral in New Orleans 9th Ward

February 2018:
“As the wooden doors to the funeral venue were flung open, the sun suddenly beamed down, and a trumpet player began bleating down the block toward the railroad tracks.” Field report from Mr Okra’s funeral. link

2018 Mardi Gras Indian super sunday party in New Orleans

March 2018
“Super Sunday is the biggest Mardi Gras Indian party of the entire year.” When the Indians come out en masse it feels like every New Orleanian in the entire city shows up to celebrate. It’s one of those surreal occasions that can only take place in our little piece of Louisiana link

April 2018
“There are plenty ways to become a New Orleanian. Catch a cudgel to the ribs from the wild man parading with Mohawk Hunters. Receive a free cold beer from Mr Junior at Little People’s Place on Barracks. Lose a radiator to a pot hole on Carrolton Avenue.” Why is it ok to buy po boy bread for your restaurant but if you buy pizza dough for the same restaurant you’re suddenly a bunch of assholes? Homegrown Pizza does both yet only gets raked over the coals for the latter. I was knocking out big batches of pizza dough for Mr Gatti’s when I was 16 years old. It’s so easy. I can’t imagine a place with “pizza” in their name not doing it for themselves. link

Marjie’s Grill in New Orleans, Louisiana

May 2018
“Marjie’s Grill is the kind of funky little charming cafe that really gets over in New Orleans. It’s irreverent, clumsy and modded out with all manners of oddball tchotchkes. Of course none of that matters if the chef doesn’t know his way around a kitchen, and the main man in the kitchen here certainly does. Marcus Jacob’s flavors pop so hard you’d swear a 55 year old Thai lady was manning the range in the kitchen.” link

The best second line schedule in New Orleans

June 2018
Second line Sunday is the highlight of our entire week. Over the span of four hours, a few thousand people drink, eat, dance, and mingle while the best dancers, and brass band players in the entire U.S put on an extravagant parade. Nothing says New Orleans like a Sunday second line in the 9th Ward. We casually posted a schedule for the parades and people went bonkers. link

July 2018
There are hundreds of fabled recipes in the culinary history of Texas but the one with the most over-the-top backstory is Shanghai Jimmy’s Texas Chili Rice. At one point Shanghai Jimmy had a few locations scattered around Dallas back in the 1920s but they’re all long-shuttered. I spent a week writing this article. link

Complete list of craft breweries in Louisiana

August 2018
There are 36 breweries currently open for business in the great state of Louisiana. The city of Austin has 72. It’s hard to believe I’ve been working in the industry for 16 years. Man, that decade and a half blew by fast. New Orleans is coming along if slowly. Four years ago I said give us 15 years and we’ll have a nice scene developed. And we still might. Oh, here’s the list of all the breweries in the state. If I missed one please comment. link

September 2018
Texans eat a lot of jambalaya but I’d venture to say I was the first to make a big batch with brisket and hot guts sausage from the pit of one John Mueller. When I posted the recipe I didn’t expect it to be one of the biggest posts of the entire year. link

Eugene Hicks at his tamale restaurant in Clarksdale, Mississippi

October 2018
We drove up through the Mississippi Delta in October prospecting for tamales and fried catfish platters. We really hit paydirt when we found Hicks’ Hot Tamales in Clarksdale. Eugene Hicks has owned a tamale restaurant for over a half century, and has a great back-history. link

November 2018

“Mommy blogger” Katie Workman penned the least factual article on Texas Red chili we’ve ever read. It inspired us to contact the Associated Press (who published it) and offer some advice on multiple corrections. We were rightly chuffed when AP issued said corrections. Way to do the right thing AP. link

How to cure a bone in pork belly

December 2018

This site began its life as a recipe blog. Over the years it morphed into something much more profound, and important but recipes still draw a strong readership. Our test kitchen is always filled with big hunks of hog that we’re submitting to various sorts of cures. Have you ever wanted to learn how to cure a bone-in pork belly? link

La Coyota is our favorite taco truck in New Orleans

Taco truck of the year La Coyota is barely in New Orleans but it’s easily our favorite taco source in the city. Taco Cat’s good too but their $4 price tag can put a hurt on your bank account quick. La Coyota charges $2. Could they open in Austin and make money? Perhaps. link

Louis Armstrong burger in the Scrumptious Chef kitchen

Burger of the year: The Louis Armstrong burger has antecedents that stretch back over a half century. When I was a little kid my family used to visit a forgotten burger shoppe in Kenner, Louisiana where I first acquainted myself with this beast. Nowadays I just make them from scratch. Please note, bacon is not a normal garnish on this sandwich but I had a spare strip so I went a little crazy.

Po boy of the year: Fried catfish po boy at Rampart Food Store. Let’s not mince words. This is our favorite po boy in the entire city. Crispy planks of well seasoned catfish ride Hi Do French bread with mayo and lettuce serving as anchors. Sit outside on a sunny afternoon and take in the well-protected Banksy across the way.

Jordan at Rook Cafe is our 2018 New Orleans barista of the year

Barista of the year Jordan at Rook Cafe. We brew 90% of the coffee we drink in New Orleans right here at the Scrumptious house with Wild Gift beans smuggled in from Austin, and boiled in a 1950s-era Comet percolator. But when we need a quick conversation with a friendly barista we head uptown to Freret Street to visit Jordan at Rook. The coffee’s nothing to get excited about but if you like talking about music, theater or the foodways of Acadiana Jordan’s a good conversationalist.

Little People’s Place in the 6th Ward of New Orleans

Barkeep of the year Wine at Little People’s Place. She’s not always around but you can sometimes find her there for Friday happy hour where she holds court over a crazy range of regulars, tourists, and people who beat a beeline to the curbside fryolator cranking out $5 fish plates. Wine’s also a fine DJ who’s been known to blast Blac Youngsta right alongside Pokey Bear.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 2 is our 2018 cemetery of the year

Cemetery of the year

Only in New Orleans would a website devoted to food have a ‘cemetery of the year’ award but we have to give our proper respect to Lafayette Cemetery No. 2. where Sociètè de Bienfaisance des Bouchers, or the French Butchers Society resides 80 vaults strong. Their interment is due to the proximity of the Mississippi River where dockhands once unloaded hundreds of thousands of heads of cattle. If you were a French butcher practicing his trade in New Orleans in the 1800s the neighborhood surrounding the cemetery is where you broke bread and rested your head at the end of the work day. 19th century barkeeps by the dozens are also called to grace at Lafayette No. 2.

Most disturbing trend: Vegan soul food. We sent a friend who’s vegan-friendly to the new place on Broad Street that drew serious accolades in local food press. They bill themselves as “vegan soul food” probably because if they trumpeted their food as being barely edible (which it reportedly is) they wouldn’t keep the lights turned on. Vegans have plenty foodstuffs to keep the reaper at bay. Not one of which is soulful by any real measure.

Louisiana brewery of the year: We were raised up in the dark era of Texas craft brew, and believe us developing a strong, local beer community does not happen overnight. Our single favorite beer that has ever been produced in the Pelican State is Great Raft’s Creature of Habit. It’s a flavor explosion, and the only LA beer we buy by the case. Stash some in the bottom of the fridge, and hold it for one year. It takes on a completely different flavor as it ages.

Henry Fudge is our 2018 hog farmer of the year. Here are two of his Duroc pork bellies on the Weber Smoky Mountain

Hog farmer of the year: Henry Fudge, Fudge Family Farms in Madison, Alabama. Mr Fudge is an elderly pig farmer living in the northern reaches of the Yellowhammer State. He’s been overseeing a prodigious genetics program since 1971. If you need the finest heritage pork on earth, Fudge is the man.

Poppa’s Seafood is our 2018 fried chicken joint of the year

Fried chicken joint of the year: Poppa’s Seafood. We’ve been eating fried chicken in New Orleans since Moses was young and we’ve never found a better plate than Poppa’s. They’re really slow here. There is a no sandbag policy aka they don’t precook their chicken. It’s lava hot, seasoned to the moon, and cheaper than a parson pretending he doesn’t see the waitress when she drops off the check. No seats. Bulletproof glass. Takeout only. No call in orders.

Mandy is our 2018 Movie of the year

Movie of the year: Mandy. Imagine if Sam Raimie, the Cohen brothers, and Tobe Hopper took a suitcase filled with DMT out to the woods around Bogalusa, and spent a week shooting an ode to hallucinogens on 16mm with 1971-era Black Sabbath issuing wails of torment in the background. Heavy.

New Orleans-based hard news journalist of the year: John Simerman is our favorite local news reporter but he really flexes when his bosses have him go longform. We normally don’t follow what’s going on out in New Iberia but Simerman’s gripping takedown of the police department there had us on the edge of our seats. link

Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond is our 2018 whiskey of the year

Whiskey of the year: Heaven Hill bottled in bond. Good luck getting your hands on this precious spirit. It used to be widely available and was a favorite of the working men here at Scrumptiouschef but the distillery discontinued it earlier this year. It will be back on the market in 2019 under a new marque and with a hefty price increase.

Favorite New Orleans Twitter account: TK Wharton If I ever have a question about anything that has ever happened in the city of New Orleans I shoot a tweet over to TK Wharton and he’ll immediately have the answer. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of our city and his stream is an endless array of New Orleans-related arcana.

The best second line of this young season: 9 Times Social Aid and Pleasure Club

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